LONDON (CAP) - The phone-hacking scandal that brought down media mogul Rupert Murdoch's News Of The World newspaper has shocked millions who had no idea that newspapers were still being published.
"So you're telling me they're still printing the bloody things? On paper?" asked Sarah Murphy, 27, of Tottenham. "That's just crackers."
News Of The World staffers apparently used the information garnered from illegal cell phone hacking for "stories" that they subsequently published on newsprint via large, expensive "printing presses."
The resulting newspapers were then carried - often via truck or similar gas-powered delivery vehicle - to people's homes and retail outlets. This practice is still going on in some places today, despite the common belief that all news is delivered over the Internet, primarily via Google.
"I'm just gobsmacked," said Harry Murch, 32, of Borehamwood, upon being told of the News Of The World scandal. "I thought Google had figured out a bloody algorithm to generate news at least five years ago."
The situation is reminiscent of what happened with the once-venerable Boston Globe, which ceased publication in 2010 and "almost nobody noticed," said Boston-area media critic David O'Kennedy.
"There are probably thousands of people who assume the Boston Globe is still being published today," said O'Kennedy. "You hear stories of the occasional elderly person shuffling up to the shuttered building to try to place a classified listing - it's very sad."
Apparently in America, many readers thought the only newspaper left was USA Today, which rebounded from declining circulation in 2007 when it announced that it would only publish photos of attractive people. And by 2009, studies showed that most teenagers could not identify a newspaper when presented with one, with some of them finding the unfamiliar combination of paper and ink "extremely disturbing."
And while the phone-hacking scandal has reminded many of newspapers' continued if tenuous existence, some fear it will only accelerate their precipitous decline. And that's a prospect that some find very troubling.
"I don't know where we'll get our paper if they all finally go belly up," said Wanda Shirkmere of Kingston upon Hull, president of the British Papier Mache Society, whose U.S. counterpart disbanded this year for lack of materials. "We've already had to scuttle our plans for a giant papier mache bust of Andrew and Kate."
Murdoch's News Of The World was shut down earlier this month amidst allegations that the paper had illegally hacked into the mobile phones of the Royal Family, a murdered schoolgirl, relatives of deceased British soldiers, victims of the 7/7 London bombings and the 9/11 attacks, NFL quarterback Brett Favre, Welsh superstar Tom Jones and every member of the London Gay Men's Chorus, along with hundreds of celebrities, porn stars and British citizens apparently chosen at random.
"Well, you never know where news is going to pop up," said Rebekah Brooks - the paper's former editor who was arrested in connection with the case on Sunday - in defense of the practice. "Although in retrospect we were probably better off in the days when we just went through people's rubbish."
- CAP News Staff